Melanoma Worse in Pregnant Women

Skin cancer could be more fatal when diagnosed in pregnant women within a year of giving birth.

Skin cancer could be more fatal when diagnosed in pregnant women within a year of giving birth.

A recent study discovered that among women below the age of 50, melanoma diagnoses during or immediately after pregnancy were more likely to be associated with tumors that spread quickly to other organs and tissues. Recurrence is also more prevalent in this demographic.

The researchers analyzed a group of 41 pregnant women who were diagnosed with stage 0 or stage 1 melanoma during or within one year of pregnancy during 1988-2012.

After treatment, 12.5% of the patient cohort experienced recurring cancer, compared with just 1.4% of the remaining women in the study.

Furthermore, the results showed metastasis occurred in 25% of women diagnosed around the time of pregnancy.

While the study doesn’t explore why pregnancy might influence melanoma outcomes, experts surmise that hormone fluctuation or suppressed immune system activity during pregnancy may help tumors grow.

Jeffrey Farma, MD, co-director of the cutaneous oncology and melanoma program, Fox Chase Cancer Center in Philadelphia, said in a release, “Although this is a retrospective small series, I believe consideration should be made to screening some patients more closely.”

The experts noted that since patients were only from one medical center, it’s possible the results aren’t representative of all female, pregnant melanoma patients.

Despite seemingly limited results, the researchers cautioned that physicians should advise pregnant women with melanoma to monitor their skin for the slightest change or abnormality.

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